On watching the Champions League Final

Katya Barrett, Editor-in-Chief

I am often told that watching soccer is “too boring.” In most games, there doesn’t even have to be a winner, the haters point out. Sometimes not even a single goal is scored, they add, it can end 0-0. So rather than give a lengthy explanation of why this argument is, in short, silly, I’ll give you one reason why everyone should enjoy watching soccer once in a while: the Champions League Final.

Of course, if you aren’t sure what the Champions League is, this reason might not mean much to you. Put shortly, the Champions League is the best of the best; the top clubs from each of Europe’s top leagues fight for what is seen as the most prestigious club trophy in the world. Beginning every year with qualifying rounds in mid-July, the tournament always ends in mid-May as the final two teams fight for the title.

Less than a week ago, on May 19, Chelsea Football Club, which plays in the English Premier League (EPL), was crowned champions of Europe after beating Bayern Munich, which plays in Germany, 4-3 on penalties.

So why is the Champions League Final alone so great? Reason one: it’s enjoyable to pick one team to root for and one team to hate. If you don’t have a favorite team, choose one anyway. Pick the team you hate most, and then root for the other one. Pick the team with the (and this is totally subjective) most deserving players.

As fans know, chances are that the team you like the most won’t end up in the final every year. And the beauty of the Champions League Final is that for ninety minutes (or more if the game is tied), you can get so swept up in the game that you end up cheering passionately for a team you’ve never even watched play before.

For 120 minutes, plus penalties, on Saturday I screamed and held my breath for Bayern because they aren’t Chelsea, they wear red, and because Bastian Schweinsteiger seems pretty cool. No, it didn’t feel like rooting for Liverpool. But it was fun to get lost in cheering for a team I may never root for again.

Reason two: it’s inspiring to see how much the trophy means to the players. Professional soccer players play a lot of games in their lives, but few get to play in the Champions League Final. So when a player does get there, he knows it might be his only chance at the trophy.

You can see it in each player’s eyes. There’s no doubt that any player on the pitch on Saturday, and many, many players who didn’t make it that far, would give almost anything (a leg, first-born child, you name it) to get their hands on the cup. You have few other chances to see a game where every person plays so desperately.

Reason three (and this one is even simpler): there has to be a winner. Yes, other soccer games can end in ties. But in the Champions League Final, you are guaranteed goals. If there are none (or if it’s a tie) after 90 minutes, they play 30 more. If it’s still tied, they go to the dreaded penalty kicks. It is one game where you know there will be drama.

Yes, that winner may not always be the team you want it to be. For all my yelling at the television and wearing the color red and attempting to learn the Bayern songs, Chelsea still won.

Which brings us to the fourth, and my last, reason: it happens every year. The World Cup, in contrast, occurs every four. But every year, the craziness of the Champions League culminates in a final. While it didn’t go the way I wanted it to this year, next year it might. And that makes it worth watching.